Defense and hustle lifts Thunder to 92-88 win in Philly

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Russell Westbrook couldn’t make a jump shot and couldn’t hang on to the ball but he still found a way to play like an All-Star and lead the Thunder to a 92-88 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night.

Westbrook shot 7-for-20 from the floor and turned the ball over seven times but he led the Thunder with 13 rebounds and seven of the offensive variety and played lockdown defense down the stretch.

Leading by one following an Andre Iguodala three-pointer with five seconds left in the game, Kevin Durant stepped to the line to shoot two free throws. He made the first then missed the second but Westbrook was there to steal the offensive rebound and get back to the line making both of his free throws.

Westbrook was great early in the game getting to the rim at will in the first quarter but Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins adjusted and the 76ers took away Westbrook’s driving lanes for the rest of the game. Westbrook was forced to settle for more jumpers and wasn’t hitting and became visibly frustrated.

The Russell Westbrook from a year ago or even earlier this season may have hung his head low down the stretch in this one. The Russell Westbrook of today stepped up and made crucial plays when the Thunder needed him.

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Durant scored only 23 points in the game and was 7-of-18 from the floor. James Harden added 16 points and eight boards and Serge Ibaka 10 points, eight boards and three blocks.

The Thunder’s physical, athletic defense down the stretch won them this game.

Oklahoma City trailed 84-77 with 5:31 left in the game. The 76ers would miss their next 11 shots after this point and score only four points the rest of the game.

Kendrick Perkins played one of his better games of the season scoring only three points but grabbing 11 rebounds and helping Ibaka control the paint.

The Thunder grabbed 19 offensive rebounds in the game and turned the ball over 17 times. They held a huge edge at the free throw line attempting 34 compared to only 12 for Philadelphia.

Iguodala and Jrue Holiday played very good games for the Sixers standing face-to-face with Durant and Westbrook. The entire night until the last five minutes it felt like the Sixers were playing great and the Thunder poor. That just goes to show the superior talent on the Oklahoma City roster.

Royal Ivey gave some great run for the Thunder especially in the second half and did a very nice job on Lou Williams. Ivey and Harden together drew the assignment of Williams for most of the ngiht and held him to 3-of-11 shooting.

The Thunder improve to 28-7 on the season and will play in Orlando (23-13) tomorrow night on TNT.

Topics: Andre Iguodala, James Harden, Jrue Holiday, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, Lou Williams, Royal Ivey, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Thunder Vs 76ers

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